Urdu update here | English translation by Romessa Nadeem
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), despite being given a month’s time by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) could not prepare and present SOPs that would prevent future harassment of journalists under the Electronic Crime Act. The IHC has expressed anger over the FIA and has given a one-week extension for the development of the SOPs.
On Friday, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard petitions against the FIA’s notice to journalists. During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Tayyab Shah appeared before the court and said that the FIA had received 22,900 complaints under Section 20 of PECA, out of which 30 complaints were against journalists. On this, Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that it seems that the FIA was only conducting selective operations and that it was strange to take action only against people with certain views. The court brought up the notice sent to senior anchor Nadeem Malik without mentioning his name, and remarked that he was told to reveal his source. Issuing a notice to one journalist affects other journalists as well. Journalists should not be harassed under the Anti-Electronic Crime Act. On this, Additional Attorney General Syed Tayyab Shah said that he also wants the impression that action is only taken against journalists to end.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Athar Minallah also said that it has been observed that an institution takes immediate action on the complaint of government members, while no one listens to the common man. A citizen who raised the issue of the environment on social media was also harassed. At the request of Kanwal Shauzab, the FIA rushed at this citizen. Kanwal Shauzab‘s request should not have been acted upon. What happened to the rain in E-11? This is what happens when you destroy the environment. Why not impose a fine and approve a petition against the FIA?
The court directed the FIA to submit a report of the SOPs by August 8 to prevent such notices in the future.
Journalist and columnist Bilal Ghauri and Asad Ali Toor have filed separate petitions in the IHC against the FIA notices.